Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 35

TAKING THE STAND

"Taking the Stand" appears periodically in Washington Lawyer as a forum for D.C. Bar
members to address issues of importance to them and that would be of interest to
others. The opinions expressed are the author's own. For submissions, email
editorial@dcbar.org.

YES TO MANDATORY

BIKE HELMET LAWS
By Laricke Blanchard

It's possible that a helmet requirement may
lead to fewer bikers on the road and undermine
bike-share systems. However, wearing a helmet
significantly reduces the odds of a head injury.
We see this in biking as well as in several other
sports that require helmets to prevent or
mitigate brain damage.
The states began adopting helmet laws in 1987
mainly for people under 18; Washington, D.C.,
requires riders under 16 to wear a helmet. The

increasing availability of lighter, stronger
helmets and potential partnerships for helmet
distribution - coupled with an educational
campaign and a long transition period - could
help remedy any dampening effect on the
number of bike riders. In addition, having protected bike lanes results in a higher number of
cyclists and, thus, "safety in numbers," according
to several studies.
Another complicating factor in some states is
that a cyclist's failure to wear a helmet may lead
to a finding of contributory negligence and a
consequent deduction in damages for personal
injury. In states like Florida, however, the law
specifically states that failure to wear a helmet
may not be considered evidence of negligence
or contributory negligence with respect to
biking accidents. This is not an insignificant
issue, so addressing this concern is both
possible and logical. Whether you're a tourist
sightseeing on the National Mall, a student
headed to class, a baseball fan utilizing the free
bicycle valet at Nationals Park, or a weekend
warrior enjoying a workout, knowledge of the
rules, rights, and responsibilities on the bike is
fundamental, for cyclists and society as a whole.
As many people have noted, wearing a bike
helmet is akin to putting on a seatbelt in a
car. All broken bones and road rash cannot be
prevented, and you won't see me encased in
bubble wrap biking the Mount Vernon Trail or
doing laps around Hains Point. Yet all of the
organized rides I have done required riders
to wear a helmet, and I do the same with my
Tuesday morning cycling club as well as on
my casual neighborhood rides.
In California, everyone under 18 must wear
a bike helmet, and if a child is caught without
one, the parents could be fined. However,
under the state's bicycle helmet "fix it" law

Courtesy of Laricke Blanchard

I

t's usual for government to certify
the behaviors and norms of
individuals, businesses, and
markets. On November 5, 2019,
the National Transportation Safety
Board (NTSB) recommended
that all 50 states, the District of
Columbia, and Puerto Rico require
every bike rider to wear a helmet.
This was NTSB's first examination
of bicyclist safety since its last
report in 1972. Some people argue
that a universal bike helmet law is
a bad idea yet extol the virtues of
wearing one. Rather than lose focus
by drawing such a distinction, we
should be pulling in the same
direction to increase the number
of bicyclists and promote safety.

enacted in early 2019, parents can get the
charge dismissed if they can show proof that
the child has a proper safety helmet and has
completed an approved bicycle safety course.
States should adopt what they think best to
encourage the joys and benefits of biking and
to ensure that cyclists are not unfairly penalized
with helmet mandates.
Just saying no to a helmet law seems like the
wrong direction. Rather, I suggest a shift to a
comprehensive campaign to get behind helmet
requirements, along with protected bike lanes
and trails, improved detection systems in cars,
better street lighting, and education for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. While not without
consequences, the NTSB helmet recommendation is trying to catch up to reality and is worthy
of support. I want us to use our precious brain
cells to achieve biking for everyone, everywhere. A helmet mandate should be seen as
one spoke in the wheel rather than a pothole
in the road toward our destination, which will
include some hills.
And don't forget your helmet.
D.C. Bar member Laricke Blanchard lives, works,
and bikes in Washington, D.C.

MARCH/APRIL 2020

*

WASHINGTON LAWYER

35



Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar Of Events
Women of Impact feature
The Race to End Roe feature
Solar Power Access Feature
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
Global & Domestic Outlook
Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Calendar Of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Women of Impact feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 18
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - The Race to End Roe feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Solar Power Access Feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 44
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 52
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover4
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June/July2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/March2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/February2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/November2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/july2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/february2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2016/
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2016
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com